Bartolo Colon will turn 46 next May, but the veteran right-hander told reporters this week that he’s nonetheless hoping for a return to the Majors next season (link via Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News). Specifically, Colon said he’d love to return to the Rangers, though Fraley suggests that could be a long shot.
Given Colon’s recent results, it’s difficult to imagine anything other than minor league offers materializing for him in free agency this winter. While he came out of the gates with a strong 3.55 ERA and 40-to-7 K/BB ratio through his first 63 1/3 innings with the Rangers in 2018, his season has spiraled out of control. The righty has turned in a woeful 7.11 ERA over his past 15 starts with 41 strikeouts against 18 walks in 81 innings of work.
Though this is more a statement about the Rangers and their rotation woes than it is about Colon, the veteran right-hander does lead Texas with 144 1/3 innings pitched in 2018. He’s remained a fairly durable rotation piece even at 45 years of age, though his fastball is averaging a career-low 87.4 mph. Meanwhile, his 1.87 HR/9 mark is the highest he’s posted since a brief, ill-fated run with the 2009 White Sox, though surely playing at Globe Life Park in Arlington doesn’t help him in that regard. Colon’s walk rate remains pristine (1.56 BB/9), and it’s also worth noting that fielding-independent pitching metrics feel he’s performed similarly, if not better than he did in 2017 when he managed to secure a minor league pact with Texas (4.64 xFIP).
Colon already broke Juan Marichal’s record for wins by a Dominican-born pitcher earlier this season — he’s now at 247 in his career — and he’s spoken recently about wanting to top Marichal’s career innings mark as well. Colon is currently 47 1/3 frames shy of that distinction, so he won’t get there before the end of the current campaign.
It’s certainly plausible that another club would put forth a minor league offer this winter — more anecdotally, Colon has pitched for 11 different teams, placing him two teams behind Edwin Jackson’s record of 13 — but “Big Sexy” would almost certainly have to earn his way onto a 2019 roster with a more encouraging Spring Training effort.